Rosicrucian Writings Online


The Thought of the Month

A ROSICRUCIAN SURVEY OF THE WORLD'S THINKING
 
By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
 
[From The Rosicrucian Digest November 1929]
 
 
A CORDIAL invitation was recently received by me from the president of the Board of Trustees of the Roerich Museum of New York to attend, on the evening of October 17, the celebration of the Fortieth Anniversary of the artistic and cultural activities of Nicholas Roerich, and to personally greet Mr. Roerich upon his return from Europe on the occasion of the opening of the magnificent new Roerich Museum on Riverside Drive. The president of the Trustees in sending this invitation to me accompanied the formal, engraved notice with a personal letter in which he said that because of the work being accomplished by our organization, and of my relationship with various humanitarian activities in this country, the personal acquaintances of Mr. Roerich felt that I would want to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the Rosicrucian Order in this country for the work that has been accomplished by our mutual co-worker, Nicholas Roerich.
 
I regret that my present labors at Headquarters prevent me from once again standing at the side of Brother Roerich in one of his hours of extreme joy and happiness, and from participating in this celebration of his accomplishments. I feel that in bringing this man and his activities before our members through this magazine, I will be helping many persons throughout the world to celebrate the accomplishments of an international character. Throughout many lands the attention of thinking persons and especially of those interested in mysticism, art, and cultural philosophy will be directed toward the celebration, which occurs in New York this month. It is seldom that one man is preeminent in several fields of accomplishment; but while Rosicrucians and mystics of all lands, together with students of philosophy, are rejoicing in Brother Roerich's forty years of accomplishment, artists and musicians, writers, poets, and sculptors will likewise doff their hats and hail Roerich as a leader and an outstanding figure in their representative fields.
 
As one newspaper man stated in the Buffalo Courier-Express recently, "Other men travel to remote parts of the earth and risk their lives and come back and write books. But no other man, so far as I am aware, is like Nicholas Roerich."
 
Roerich first made himself a national character by coming from Russia to America, where he instituted a new form of expression in art. In every stroke of his brush, and in every intricate and unique bit of his composition, and in the lights and shadows of his expressions, there were the elements of mystical philosophy, and it was not surprising to those who became intimately acquainted with him to find that he was a real mystic, a true philosopher, and an interpreter of spiritual laws. Those who recognized these qualities became his students, his friends, and his devotees in what might have become a cult or a strange movement devoted to the furtherance of his ideals. Today, there are thousands, especially among the cultured, the wealthy, and the thinking persons who look upon Roerich as the personification of philosophical and mystical development in man.
 
As a mystic, Brother Roerich went into the Himalayas, and there studied under the Disciples, and discovered that Jesus had once been a student of the ancient teachings and lived near the foothills of Thibet for a short period. Roerich also learned much about his own previous incarnations and the incarnations of other eminent mystics and philosophers throughout the world. His search for truth and knowledge led him into the monasteries and the archives of the ancient teachings in many lands. In the Gobi Desert, he witnessed many strange manifestations of the mystical laws contained in our teachings, and in the teachings of the Oriental philosophers, and all the while he painted. His efforts produced over five hundred canvases during his stay in the Himalayas and the lands bordering this mystical territory. In other countries he painted prolifically and always with a mastership and a lavishness of mystical expression unknown in the work of other artists.
 
And now this man returns to America to find that his admirers, students, and followers have built a twenty-four story edifice, devoted to his art and teachings, on one of the finest boulevards in America. The list of trustees of this new museum includes the names of prominent wealthy leaders of thought and activity in all the principal countries of the world. New York City, which is supposed to be a cold, indifferent, materialistic, soulless city is going to stop in its mad rush for the possession of material wealth and pay homage to art and philosophy, to a dreamer, a mystic creator, and a spiritual leader. Again, quoting a newspaper writer: "Such a man could not possibly have made himself a power in this noisy and careless city. But there's the proof. He has."
 
We are happy to note in the newspaper items of the world an increasing degree of recognition for the spiritual side of our lives and the accomplishments of mankind that tend to lift the thoughts of man beyond the commonplace things, and the actual necessities relating to our earthly existence. It is nearly two thousand years since a small portion of the world paid homage to a spiritual or philosophical leader. In that time civilization was steeped in the blackest of thoughts and the most bloody of deeds. The great light of the world seemed to have left the consciousness of man, and humanity had retrograded to the lowest depths of animal existence, but during the last hundred years, there has been a gradual and steady increase of the soul's search for more light. This has resulted in a lifting of the human eyes above the normal horizon of earthly activities to where the conscious vision reaches beyond material limitation and senses the dawning of another day. This perspective has widened the field of vision for man and with the widening of vision has come a widening of his understanding and comprehension; this has given him a greater field for meditation and inward contemplation. As man has lifted up his vision, he has lifted up his thoughts, and in lifting his thoughts, he has lifted himself until today the majority of human beings in civilized lands enjoy the benefits of education and intellectual enlightenment. They spend as much time in contemplation of the higher and better things of life as they spend in dealing with the sordid and commonplace.
 
Perhaps in no other time of the world's history could such an event have taken place as that which is taking place this month in New York City. Of all the places in the world where this might have occurred, New York seemed to be selected by the Cosmic as a rebuke to the pessimistic belief that in America and especially in New York there could be no general recognition of that which was above and beyond the material beliefs and necessities of life.
 
I have seen the work of Brother Roerich in foreign lands. On many of my trips through Europe and in Palestine and Egypt I have met those who have been intimately associated with him, and I have heard the admiration, adoration, and respect which his life and his handiwork have commanded. I have heard him, at the fire side among his close friends, discuss his personal convictions and his personal understandings of the highest mystical laws. Even in the most casual conversations and in his inimical* friendly letters of philosophical discourse, one finds an abundance of beautiful thoughts. I have before me one of his letters, in which he speaks of the rhythms of life and the spiritual laws manifesting therein. In part, he says, "We now understand that all the details of life we see about us have not been the work of mere accident. They are all full of meaning accumulated in the course of centuries. If every word, and every letter of our name, has its own significance, and if each step of our existence has its cause and effect, with what rapt attention ought we to regard every manifestation of the great creative process! . . . some already realize clearly, while others are only beginning to suspect, as half in a dream, that an intricate process of creative work is going on all around them, and that some forces which they do not comprehend are busy shaping the final forms and aspects of a new life. And how infinite is the complexity of these forces! What seeming trifles often change completely the entire structure of our existence!"
 
Brother Roerich is, I am sure, a living example of the seeming trifles which may change the career of a person and affect the lives of many thousands of others. He was born in a family of mystics in far-off Russia, and early brought into contact with the teachings and principles of the Rosicrucian Order, which was at one time a leading and controlling, though secret and greatly veiled, influence in the cultural development of thousands of Russians. This seemingly insignificant influence in the lives of his parents was implanted in the character of Nicholas, the boy, and because of it he was brought into attunement with that period of Cosmic rhythm, which started him in this life's cycle of existence with the necessary qualifications, faculties, and abilities to carry on to a greater degree the hopes and aspirations, the ideals and contemplations of his parents. That his parents were of the nobility of Russia only further illustrates the remarkableness of Cosmic law, for it is a notable fact that in the period when his parents were in the prime of life more of the nobility of Russia were members of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood than were those in the more humble walks of life. Even today our Grand Lodge for Russia reports that its membership contains a host of those who were formerly in high social position through so-called nobility of birth. It may be that when the present translation period of Russia is past, and the day of rebirth arrives, the power of the influence once limited to those of wealth and means may become a nation-wide power for the establishment of a greater nation. One man such as Nicholas Roerich might well become the standard bearer and proclaim the rights of his country to a place high in the position of people and bring about its new place in the evolution of the world. Truly, the seeming trifles of our inheritance, place of birth, and family relationship often constitute, as do many other seeming trifles of life, the very fundamental keys to the greatest of events.
 
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* Webmaster's Note: The word "inimical" as published in the magazine could be a stenographical error and probably should have read "inimitable".
 

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